Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Tales from the Chest: Baiting Red Geets

Sometimes you have to give up something good - this scene - for something better - the scene in which I used to establish a bit of Tryk's eccentricity.  Plus, I brought up the Geets in a later scene.
*********************************************************************************

Talon reluctantly made the fire Tryk requested, wondering if it would somehow have something to do with food - hoping, but not believing.

"Hold still," Tryk whispered, looking at the wide-eyed Talon who instantly froze.

He watched as his inventor-friends good eye tracked something behind Talon.  Judging from the quick jerky movements of that eye, it was small and fast.

"They're very sensitive to sound and smell, but their eyesight is really poor."

This, of course, could be any number of Tryk's "finds" and Talon tried not to flinch at the thought of the last find - an albino skunk.  Tryk often left critical things out of conversation - like the fact whether or not something was going to attack - or if it were poisonous.

"Ah - ha!" Tryk crowed, his hand darted toward the now crackling fire and Talon stopped him from putting his hand into the flames.  

"What are you doing!" he sputtered, shocked.

Tryk gave an owlish blink and unsuccessfully tried to jerk his hand away.  "It's a red-tailed geet!"

"A what?" Talon looked where Tryk pointed with his free hand.

"In the fire, boy!"

There, in the fire were a growing number of lizards - all glowing, all looking content.

"That's why I needed the fire!  I'm studying them," the inventor insisted.  "The only way I could tempt one was to have a fire."

Talon released Tryk's hand, but kept a watch on him since the man was known to do what sane people would never consider.






Lyon Tybar's parents


                                                                          Robby Benson as Lyon Tybar's father,  Redge Ryhawk.












Karla DeVito Benson
as Lyon's mother, Dayauni "Auni" Ashfael

As newlyweds - Redge and Auni




Lyon's father, Redge Ryhawk was ruler over the Sogoian Assassins Guild.  Redge has a special cameo at the very first of the novel, Chest of Souls.  He is one of two escorts for the "One" when she is taken to visit the Temple of the Unknown God.  

Auni is never brought up in the Chest of Souls, but as the author, I knew she existed and decided that I may as well just mimic life.  I gave Robby Benson/Redge Tybar, Robby's real-life wife, Karla DeVito.

This helps readers understand the value of having a deeper understanding of the characters that are written.  Besides, I love genealogy.





















Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Let's Discuss: Joz Trebu

Joz at the beginning of the series


Name of the real person/actor: Rodrigo G Diaz

The character in my book that looks like him:  Joz Trebu

Country Joz is from:  Teris

Whenever I find a new picture that fits what I pictured in my mind, I like to add the character that I 'see' in my mind's eye.  In this case, it is Joz Trebu - one of Talon's 'Elite' men.

Joz was the 'pretty' boy and often teased about his extra-good looks.

He was, however, very hot under the collar and ready to swing his fists first, often getting the turmoil going.


Joz in the islands
Once he is in the Barracks


At one point in the series, Joz and his friends, Dom and Zeal go to the Ammonite Islands.  He is very popular there.







The Barracks in Sogo require seven years.  In the end, only one will survive.  Joz is there - way out of his element, but at least he has his friends...or does he?




In the Barracks, freshly shaved







Joz at the celebratory banquet in Book 9 and in the upcoming sequels, there will be more.












Siren Call: House of Cards Series, Book 4




Mates Laurentiu, cover artist, Hannah Bischoff, Typographer

The magick's world is failing. It’s up to Sarah and her friends to save it.

It took them two years to find the right combination of inks to restore Ari.
All they have to do is paint her card so Taps can release her. 
The problem is, they no longer have her card. 
Queen Piedee does and she’s about to burn it!

If they’re successful, they can move onto the simple stuff, like:
How to convince Queen Piedee to make Ransom a magick,
Find a cure for the werewolf virus,
How to restore Taps to her body,

You know...simple stuff like that

Fourth Corner: House of Cards Series, Book 5



Mates Laurentiu, cover artist, Hannah Bischoff, Typographer

The cards are stacked against Sarah and her friends.

In the battle at the Tapestry, thousands of Lurkers are attacking.
No one can be sure they'll survive.
People are dying and with them, magic.

Sarah had believed Taps would save them,
But Taps isn't on their side anymore.

The most powerful idolized Club ever has taken a new form.
Sarah thought the day couldn't get worse.
Until the Bone Lady showed up...





Trumped: House of Cards Series Book 6


Here it is, the final of the House of Cards Series.
  It was a sometimes difficult journey, but always rewarding.  
Dear Sarah and her friends have matured and I know 
they'll leave the world a better place.




Sarah's terrified.


It isn't because the enemy has tried to murder her three times.
It's about the people she loves.



If Sarah can't get to Taps, her mother dies.
Dee's about to, well...lay an egg.
The Bone Lady took Sal and Haberlie and she fears the worst.
Ransom hasn't found the castle yet, or he'd be here!
The castle is full of Taps-trained undead, 
and other never-before-seen-or-fought-monsters.



Her only ace-in-the-hole is Spoons, the former First Knight.
She's appemoed the dead warrior, but has no idea how long it will last.



America's magic is in its last hours.
If it fails, what then?







For more detailed information, sketches, scenes that didn't make the cut, and other extras about the characters in this series/world:  http://tapstapestry.blogspot.com/






















Tuesday, October 18, 2016

My First Novella: Thorn



My first novella - my 22nd publication.


Blurb:  


Lanta is ten when the guards of Dura come to take her away from her family.

She wouldn’t have minded that much if it weren’t for the fact she was going as a sacrifice.
Something lives inside the Xion Stump with the red X on its door.
Everyone says it's a monster, but no one’s ever seen it.
Today, for Lanta, the mystery will be unraveled.

For the first time in her life, she'd rather not know.  


ONLY 99 cents!!!

To purchase:  https://www.amazon.com/Thorn-Michelle-Erickson-ebook/dp/B01HKGX2MO


Slap Jack: House of Cards Book 3 and about Typography

Original Cover
Updated Cover




















Here it is, my 21st book and 3rd I've co-written.  
The problem with the third cover is education.

The  person that puts the title on the covers is a TYPOGRAPHER.  We made the decision to brand our series (a particular look in the title).  She did a great job.  It took some convincing, but we had her move the title to the top of this cover, though it isn't placed exactly where the other titles are.

This is something to consider when you are designing your book - where do you want the title and your name?  With us, it is a gamble.  Most of the time, it is up at the top.  However, with House of Cards, so far there are two at the top and four at the bottom due to design.  We can do that with ours because we are independent authors (Indies).  Don't count on that happening with regular printing companies.  In fact, once the manuscript is sold, you have little to no say.



BLURB:  

Sarah survived the first two weeks at the Tapestry!


Taps adopted her and she now has siblings that were also orphans.

She's becoming more confident using her magic.
Ransom is in love with her - she sees it in his eyes and feels it in his heart,
even if she's too young to do anything about it.



On the flip side:



Her bodyguard was murdered and it remains unsolved.

Taps is not only a cursed ghost, she and Sarah's brother are infected with a werewolf virus.
Sarah still isn't sure what Dee is, but glad she's nearly finished knitting her brain back together.



On the bright side of things, her friends are safe!



She thinks.

Maybe.
Hmm...is anyone safe in the magical world? Ever?


Shuffled: House of Cards Series, Book 2

Mates Laurentiu, cover artist, Hannah Bischoff, Typographer


Here is my 20th novel and the second I've co-authored.

BLURB:  

Sarah and her friends reached the Tapestry alive!

She’s not sure how long they’ll stay that way.

Life at the Tapestry isn’t as easy as Magicks think. 
Sal wants to run away, 
Sarah suspects Dee’s a lost mermaid.
School is life threatening.
Worst of all, her guardian is a ghost!
Oh, and the Lurker King is still on the hunt.

It’s been a tough first week.
But it has nothing on the second!


$2.99 to purchase:  https://www.amazon.com/Shuffled-Magic-Urban-Fantasy-Adventure-ebook/dp/B01A0AU7A2/


Thursday, June 4, 2015

My 19th Book! Huzzah!


Mates Laurentiu, cover artist, Hannah Bischoff, Typographer

What's different about this book compared to my others?  
It is my first Co-authored book.  
It has chapter heading illustrations
It's YA Urban Fantasy.
There are only three sequels planned.
.

Here's the link to purchase (currently $2.99):
http://www.amazon.com/Last-Alley-House-Cards-Book-ebook/dp/B00YUWRC5A

Here's the back cover - with the Reader's Favorite 5 Star Review emblem.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Educating Book Cover Artists

As an indie author, I want my covers to match the story I wrote.  Thankfully, as an Indie, I get to choose that artist.  The downside is that I have to do the homework or find someone in-the-know, to hire a competent artist to bring my vision to life.  

Keep in mind as you hire an artist, that the relationship should remain on a professional level.  This means your exchanges should focus on the art.

I've been blessed to work with three different book cover artists so far.

I've found that successful cover artists for me are

1) able to take constructive criticism (such as, 'That's good, but I need the light to be brighter,' etc.).
2) send regular updates via email. (so you can add or subtract details as needed)
3) speak and write English because it is the only language I speak.  So, this last one depends on your language skills.
4) finish the cover in a reasonable amount of time. Two or three weeks - if it's a complicated cover, a month at the most.

As an indie author, concept sketches and updates are critical because you are your own business.
If you've explained/drawn a quick sketch, it should suffice to get the free-lance artist started.

In the end, you should be happy with the result.

REMEMBER You need to be professional as well.  Don't keep the artist tied up while you try to decide if you want the character to have eyes or not - that is also unprofessional.

Professionals always do the job they are hired to do whether they agree with it or not.  Yes, you should allow your artist to make suggestions, but, the boss (that's you) always has the last word!

Remember, the artist should not dictate terms once they verbally (or contractually) accept a commission.  It is unethical.  Suggestions are welcome, but the employer is under no obligation to take them.  In the real world, when you begin to tell your employer what you will or won't do, it will get you fired.  As an Indie author, you do not need an artist that is a Prima Donna.









Saturday, April 4, 2015

New Cover for Traps by artist Mates Laurentiu


The time had come to choose which of the old covers we wanted to replace first.  Traps won the 'contest' hands-down.


Old Cover
New Cover



The one on the right is what we replaced - no words are really necessary to convey why we chose to replace it - and yes, others will be replaced as soon as the funds come in.

In the meantime, the cover is all that changed for COS 5.  I haven't modified and combed through the old manuscript at this time to correct any other errors that may exist. Hopefully, there aren't too many.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Let's Discuss: Soline

Soline beneath water
Soline above water


















Her name(s):  Soline:  Keeper of the Waves, Sea Goddess, Sea Witch, "Sully" (though only one person dares to call her that).

Notable characteristics:  When she is out of the water, her living hair is blue, green and grey (the grey is before she has kids - just to be different).  When she is under the waves, it is dark brown.  Her eyes are supposed to be as green as apples and the irises float on the bottom of the eye like twin corks.  When she's angry or feeling strong emotion, they are stationary.

Tidbits you may not know:

In the original first-ever story draft, Soline and Ammon fought Revaya and Soline actually killed her.

My oldest daughter came up with the idea of the Ancients.  She had written a story in high school about kick-butt female dragon riders and one of the characters in that story morphed into what years later became Soline.  She suggested I add the Ancients to the story line - the rest is history.

The picture on the left is the one I commissioned of Soline first - and is the 'older' Soline - a good thirteen millennia have passed between the one on the left and the one on the right.  The same artist did both.

Insane Water Mac?

I think losing her sanity was a close call.  There was every bit of a chance for her becoming as nutsy-coo-coo ya-ya as Vael.

Those who have read the books know how she avoided total insanity.  Not that she didn't have moments after she left the Fortress....(think flood).

I shuddered - often - as I wrote her. Curiously, I found her story so heart-wrenching, I grew to respect her and understand her plight.  With that said, I still do not particularly like her.  In reality, I would steer clear of her like I would a rabid dog.

Motivation?

In a word?  Ever-changing.
She learned to tolerate her Sea Captain, not even understanding she loved him, she automatically loved her children (but didn't know how to be a mother or grandmother).

There's also Jaydren, her first "true love."  Their story spans millennia.  Yet, she cannot accept the fact she plays second fiddle in his heart.

She even cares for a few people - Revaya and Ammon (though she'd never admit it).

Will she go back to Shara?

She has no intention of returning to Shara.  Ever.
Except...
Jaydren is determined to reclaim his father's estate - Stone's Fist and to right ancient wrongs. In the future book, Return to Shara, you'll have to ask yourself if Jaydren's unfathomable love is strong enough for their marriage to survive.


Music

Music amplifies emotion - whether heaven...or hell.  It's why I'm pretty careful about what I listen to and when I find something 'perfect' or even almost perfect, I like to use it for the emotion it draws out of me.

I look for lyrics and/or tunes that suit the characters/scenes.  This one will be Soline's song for Jaydren in Return to Shara because of the lesson she learned are in the lyrics.



Taylor Swift "This Love" lyrics


Clear blue water, high tide came and brought you in (J arrived at the Fortress)
And I could go on and on, on and on, and I will (She has been waiting millennia to escape)
Skies grew darker, currents swept you out again (when she lost him to another)
And you were just gone and gone, gone and gone 
In silent screams, (she never let those in the fortress use her emotions against her)
In wildest dreams 
I never dreamed of this (though in the free land, Jaydren is always out of her reach)

This love is good, this love is bad
This love is alive back from the dead
These hands had to let it go free
And this love came back to me

Tossing, turning, struggled through the night with someone new (Finn)
And I could go on and on, on and on
Lantern burning, flickered in my mind for only you (she never forgot Jaydren)
But you're still gone, gone, gone (he belongs to Maris)

Been losing grip,
Oh, sinking ships (the least of what she's done)
You showed up just in time (Jaydren returns to her life)

This love is good, this love is bad
This love is alive back from the dead
These hands had to let it go free
And this love came back to me

This love left a permanent mark
This love is glowing in the dark
These hands had to let it go free
And this love came back to me

This love, this love, this love, this love... [4x]

Your kiss, my cheek, I watched you leave 
Your smile, my ghost, I fell to my knees
When you're young you just run
But you come back to what you need (a truth she had to learn)

This love is good, this love is bad
This love is alive back from the dead
These hands had to let it go free
And this love came back to me

This love left a permanent mark
This love is glowing in the dark
These hands had to let it go free
And this love came back to me

This love, this love, this love, this love

Reviews: Take the best, leave the rest

Reviews are something authors and other artists have to live with.

With today's tech-savvy population, this gush of information (good and bad) is going to continue until we lose access to technology.  It could happen - apocalyptic-type scenarios are some of the best sellers.

Hey, I think it's smart to give reviews - good or bad.  I especially like the fact we educate/warn other consumers.  One of the things Amazon offers is for people to click on a button that claims your review has helped them.  

I do this a lot when I want to buy something and someone has warned me about the defects; whether mechanical or mental....like a book I considered reading has smut or the fact a particular company always seems to have a problem counting to ten and only sends eight of a product.

Trolls at work

On the other hand, there is something called 'trolling.'  This means a person/persons with nothing better to do with their time finds something for sale that's doing well and gives a one star review - usually ranting about the negative aspects of a book/product they've never read/used. The reward for their behavior is to get a rise out of people and the attention that comes with it.  Here is a link to tell you more about it:


Don't feed their frenzy.  Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but trolls need to find a different hobby.

My advice concerning reviews:  Choose the higher road.  Use respect.  Always take the best of what you can learn in the reviews about your work and leave the trolls behind. Seek improvement, yes, but don't beat yourself up over the fact you put the apostrophe in the wrong place.     

I write the best stories I can, but I don't expect every person on the planet to like them. That would be unrealistic.  Some people will only read non-fiction.  Others only Sci-Fi or only religious books, etc.

I'm not perfect and my books are not perfect.  I write the stories I'd want to read and I do the best I can with the resources God has blessed me with.

Here's a fact you may not know:  at current editing rates, to get one of my (currently) 18 books professionally edited will take $30-40 per hour and that's for basic copy editing and you only get 8-10 pages out of it!  I often write 300+ page novels.  You do the math and you'll see why I don't get a "pro" to do it.  Besides, the public seems to like my books, so I'm not getting caught up in all the grammar and punctuation Nazi's opinions.

I seldom get reviews about my  typo-s or broken grammar rules, but every now and then someone better educated than I am (and there are many), points out my flaws. With that said, I had to question if the novel they questioned even had a problem because that person later contact me and try to sell me on their editing business.  

When someone finds a real problem with my work (usually my editors and I have had four, just so you know and two of the four remain) - I make changes.  This does not apply to plot points or those who say please don't kill so-and-so, they are my favorite character!

As an independent author, I've made many changes over time - new covers, edits, corrections, etc.  I need to point out that if you read a lot, you will notice more and more type-o's in traditionally published books, newspapers, and even at school by teachers.






Monday, December 29, 2014

Lets Discuss: Ammon

Ammon is the star of the first book in the prequels, Five the Power Rising.

Current Cover of 5 Power Rising
Original Cover













Choice of Actor for the Role (as of 2020)
Chris Hemsworth
Jason Momoa













AMMON'S BACKGROUND

At the beginning of the prequels, Ammon is 27 thousand years old - young for Sharians. In Shara, people have lived as long as a million years.

He is 8 feet tall - the tallest of his family.  If you've read the Chest of Souls main series, Tasut and Talon are some of his grandsons - which explains their great height, though neither achieved Ammon's full stature.

In 5 Power Rising, Ammon is the wayward son of the Master of Rozan Steading - and heir to the title. He is not known as the brightest apple in the bunch (he is one of 10 children Aaron and Sera had), but is known for following his 'gut' instinct and having a big heart - which is what is needed at Rozan Steading.

SETTING

When you read of Shara, think of Australia as far as sheer size and turn the massive island so it is vertical. Rozan Steading sits on the west coast and stretches from north to south. It's a lot of land to harvest and protect.  The family home is grown, not built.

The size of the family trees
To compare how tall the family trees get compared to Statue of Liberty and six foot person
Good thing Ammon loves growing things.  He's in charge of enormous trees (think Redwoods/Sequoias) called Family Trees where the names of family are grown into the bark.

Unfortunately, he also enjoys brawling, which he was only too happy to teach to his siblings.  Frankly, he's good at it.

The people with 'talent' in this tale are called "Macshara" or "Macs" for short.  They are elemental (earth, wind, fire, water) and the main reason Ammon carries such a load of attitude.  If he had his way, he would eliminate them because he think they are insane.

To add luster to the tale, Ammon's family has kept a secret about Ammon for millennia.  It is a gift from his golden-eyed mother and not a common one.  

His father left out a few details before Ammon is forced to work at the Fortress in Brissa - like who their allies really are and what the enemy really wants and what they will do to get it.

You'll have to read the book to find out what those are.






Tuesday, November 4, 2014

New Cover for First Prequel: 5 Power Rising


Artist:  Mates Laurentiu - find him here:  https://www.deviantart.com/mateslaurentiu
Paperback length:  450 pages
eBook:  http://www.amazon.com/Five-Power-Rising-Fantasy-Prequel-ebook/dp/B00DB65U8W

Author's note:  
I've wanted to get a new cover for this book for quite some time.  The first cover just didn't do Ammon justice.  Once I had the final of the prequels finished, I realized the original cover wasn't the same format and figured Ammon should have his mug on the front cover.

The animal on his shoulder is called a Shee - this one is Spar, the first ever made (and proud of it!).

Cost:  $2.99 - often free on Fridays at Amazon 

BLURB

The Tree: Ammon of Rozan-Steading
The Pillar: Jaydren of Stones Fist
The Keeper: Soline the Water-witch
The Weaver: Revaya the would-be Queen
The Blaze: Vael, the Betrayer

Ammon of Rozan-Steading exists to bring change. 
While serving as a Guard at the Fortress, he met the other four Creators and hopes to free them.

Jaydren of Stones Fist was forced to kill his family.
He has plans to escape, but can’t do it alone.

Soline doesn't remember where she came from.
When she was three, her world was colored by pain that never ended. Her goal: return to the sea, no matter the cost.

Revaya was told she would be Queen someday, 
but only after a journey she’d never take by herself.

Vael was carried to the Fortress by harpies, 
monstrous winged creatures that abduct those with ‘talent'. 
He plans to burn whatever stands in his way.

These Five are already legends.
Inside them, their power is rising.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Sequels to COS?

Fans asked (less than 24 hours after I released the final prequel to COS) if there will be more.

The short answer:  Stay Tuned.  

For a quick sum of what I'm doing go to the FB page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Chest-of-Souls-Fantasy-Epic/270787772957868  If you want to follow, by all means, 'like' the page.  Go ahead and leave a comment.

For fans of the COS series, I plan to write the sequels in this sequence (Naturally, things could change):

1)  Sundara - Queen of the Ammonites
This is Wyn and Japh's story with all your favorite characters (who survived) from COS 1-9 AND the prequels.  Writing this book was a no-brainer.  I wanted to tie up the burning question:  What happened to the flaming blister known as Vael?  If you didn't know he was still alive, please re-read the series.
UPDATE ON SUNDARA:  in final edits, will be released 2020
2) Return to Shara
The title is self-explanatory - the Ancients (minus Vael) will return to Shara to confront their past and take care of unfinished business.  
UPDATE ON RTS: In first draft
3) With Wings and Talon
This had to be written to fully explain harpies and how Revaya and Pax do among them.
UPDATE: notes and filling more in
4) Sons of Thunder
Continuing where Sundara left off and setting up the rest of the books.  
UPDATE: notes and filling more in
5) End of Reason
There will be some major world-building in this one.  You'll have to read it to understand why I'm saying that.  For that reason, there must be two parts part one of the big wrap-up scene. Two major characters are slated to die (at this point) before the very end.
UPDATE: notes and filling more in
6)  Ties that Bind
Final wrap-up of loose ends and final goodbye to the characters I love.
UPDATE: notes and filling more in

Someone suggested I write a pre-prequel about Utahna - sigh...I don't know if this should be done or not.

Yes, I have some of them planned and bits written down (about 67 pages of notes for the FIRST book), but try to be patient.  You never know what bits and pieces of other books may pop up and out, so, as I mentioned above, Stay Tuned.

I am currently working on an urban fantasy with my oldest daughter called House of Cards.  It has been a real learning experience.  My family has always been involved in my books (since I eat/drink/sleep the worlds I create) but this has been the most fun I can have without being twins...and the hardest thing I've had to do.

There are four books planned, but the amount of information two of us can output is staggering, so it is likely to expand the way COS did.  Which means I will take at least a year off from writing COS.

UPDATE:  the HOC series is completed (at 6 books) and available on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc.